Loisaida: New York's Lower East Side in the '80s
Presented by Addison Gallery of American Art
April 12 - July 31, 2014
The decades leading up to the 1980s were a time of ferment and unrest in the country, triggered by events such as the Vietnam War, the bombing in Cambodia, the Kent State shootings, black power initiatives, gay riots at Stonewall Inn, and for the City of New York, the fiscal crisis in 1974. All of this set the stage in the early ’80s for what the Boston-based, avant-garde collector John P. Axelrod (Phillips Academy Class of 1964) has called “a roiling environment for the emergence of new and exciting art forms.” In New York two distinct yet intertwined threads of art emerged: Graffiti, which left its spray-painted tags on the streets, bridges, trains, and abandoned buildings beginning first in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, and then spreading soon after to the outer boroughs, and Loisaida, the colloquial Latino pronunciation of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where this diverse group of artists concentrated their activity. It is Loisaida’s uniquely American expression that has captured Axelrod’s most recent collecting enthusiasm and resulted in the selection from his personal collection that is presented in this exhibition.